Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 741-765; doi:10.3390/nano4030741 - published 20 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A variety of cyclodextrin-based molecular structures, with substitutions of either primary or secondary faces of the natural oligosaccharide macrocycles of α-, β-, or γ-cyclodextrins, have been designedtowards innovative applications of self-assembled cyclodextrin nanomaterials. Amphiphilic cyclodextrins have been obtained by chemical or enzymatic modifications of their macrocycles using phospholipidyl, peptidolipidyl, cholesteryl, and oligo(ethylene oxide) anchors as well as variable numbers of grafted hydrophobic hydrocarbon or fluorinated chains. These novel compounds may self-assemble in an aqueous medium into different types of supramolecular nanoassemblies (vesicles, micelles, nanorods, nanospheres, and other kinds of nanoparticles and liquid crystalline structures). This review discusses the supramolecular nanoarchitectures, which can be formed by amphiphilic cyclodextrin derivatives in mixtures with other molecules (phospholipids, surfactants, and olygonucleotides). Biomedical applications are foreseen for nanoencapsulation of drug molecules in the hydrophobic interchain volumes and nanocavities of the amphiphilic cyclodextrins (serving as drug carriers or pharmaceutical excipients), anticancer phototherapy, gene delivery, as well as for protection of instable active ingredients through inclusion complexation in nanostructured media.
Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 726-740; doi:10.3390/nano4030726 - published 20 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Amyloid deposits are insoluble fibrous protein aggregates, identified in numerous diseases, which self-assemble through molecular recognition. This process is facilitated by short amino acid sequences, identified as minimal modules. Peptides corresponding to these motifs can be used for the formation of amyloid-like fibrillar assemblies in vitro. Such assemblies hold broad appeal in nanobiotechnology due to their ordered structure and to their ability to be functionalized. The catechol functional group, present in the non-coded L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) amino acid, can take part in diverse chemical interactions. Moreover, DOPA-incorporated polymers have demonstrated adhesive properties and redox activity. In this work, amyloid-like fibrillar assemblies were formed through the self-assembly of a pentapeptide containing DOPA residues, Asp-DOPA-Asn-Lys-DOPA. The design of this peptide was based on the minimal amyloidogenic recognition motif of the human calcitonin hormone, Asp-Phe-Asn-Lys-Phe, the first amyloidogenic pentapeptide identified. By substituting phenylalanine with DOPA, we obtained DOPA-functionalized amyloid-like assemblies in water. Electron microscopy revealed elongated, linear fibril-like nanometric assemblies. Secondary structure analysis indicated the presence of amyloid-characteristic β-sheet structures as well as random coil structures. Deposition of silver on the DOPA-incorporated assemblies suggested redox activity and demonstrated the applicative potential of this novel nanobiomaterial.
Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 712-725; doi:10.3390/nano4030712 - published 18 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Ordered mesoporous SBA-15 analogs with different Si/Al ratios were successfully prepared in a two-step process from self-assembly of ZSM-5 nanoseeds at high temperature in mildly acidic media (473 K, pH 3.5). The obtained products were characterized as SAXS, XRD, N2 sorption, FTIR, TEM, NH3-TPD, AAS and ICP. The results show that the initial Si/Al molar ratio of ZSM-5 precursors strongly affects the final materials’ properties. A highly condensed, well-ordered mesoporous SBA-15 analog with improved hydrothermal stability and acidic properties can be prepared from low aluminum containing ZSM-5 precursors (Si/Al ≥ 20). Reducing the initial Si/Al molar ratio to 10, however, leads to the formation of a disordered mesoporous SBA-15 type material accompanied by degraded textural and acidic properties. The gas phase cracking of cumene, carried out as probe reaction to evaluate Brønsted acidity, reveals that an increased density of Brønsted acid sites has been achieved over the SBA-15 analogs compared to conventional Al-SBA-15 due to the preservation of zeolite building units in the mesopore walls of the SBA-15 analogs.
Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 700-711; doi:10.3390/nano4030700 - published 6 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Diffusive transport through nanoporous alumina membranes (NPAMs) produced by the two-step anodization method, with similar pore size but different porosity, is studied by analyzing membrane potential measured with NaCl solutions at different concentrations. Donnan exclusion of co-ions at the solution/membrane interface seem to exert a certain control on the diffusive transport of ions through NPAMs with low porosity, which might be reduced by coating the membrane surface with appropriated materials, as it is the case of SiO2. Our results also show the effect of concentration polarization at the membrane surface on ionic transport numbers (or diffusion coefficients) for low-porosity and high electrolyte affinity membranes, which could mask values of those characteristic electrochemical parameters.
Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 686-699; doi:10.3390/nano4030686 - published 4 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Meso-porous metal materials have enhanced surface energies offering unique surface properties with potential applications in chemical catalysis, molecular sensing and selective separation. In this paper, commercial 20 nm diameter metal nano-particles, including silver and copper were blended with 7 nm silica nano-particles by shear mixing. The resulted powders were cold-sintered to form dense, hybrid thin films. The sacrificial silica template was then removed by selective etching in 12 wt% hydrofluoric acid solutions for 15 min to reveal a purely metallic meso-porous thin film material. The impact of the initial silica nano-particle diameter (7–20 nm) as well as the sintering pressure (5–20 ton·m−2) and etching conditions on the morphology and properties of the final nano-porous thin films were investigated by porometry, pyknometery, gas and liquid permeation and electron microscopy. Furthermore, the morphology of the pores and particle aggregation during shear mixing were assessed through cross-sectioning by focus ion beam milling. It is demonstrated that meso-pores ranging between 50 and 320 nm in average diameter and porosities up to 47% can be successfully formed for the range of materials tested.
Nanomaterials2014, 4(3), 628-685; doi:10.3390/nano4030628 - published 4 August 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The synthesis of superparamagnetic nanoparticles (NPs) for various technological applications continues to be an interesting research topic. The successful application of superparamagnetic NPs to each specific area typically depends on the achievement of high magnetization for the nanocrystals obtained, which is determined by their average size and size distribution. The size dispersity of magnetic NPs (MNPs) is markedly improved when, during the synthesis, the nucleation and growth steps of the reaction are well-separated. Tuning the nucleation process with the assistance of a hosting medium that encapsulates the precursors (such as self-assembled micelles), dispersing them in discrete compartments, improves control over particle formation. These inorganic-organic hybrids inherit properties from both the organic and the inorganic materials, while the organic component can also bring a specific functionality to the particles or prevent their aggregation in water. The general concept of interest in this review is that the shape and size of the synthesized MNPs can be controlled to some extent by the geometry and the size of the organic templates used, which thus can be considered as molds at the nanometer scale, for both porous continuous matrices and suspensions.